Project information

Solar Power Ethiopia

To use the latest technology to produce solar powered DVD/Media players that are affordable and robust to deliver vital health and education messages to remote communities in Ethiopia.

March 2014 - March 2015

Charity information

SafeHands for Mothers

SafeHands for Mothers logo
  • Need


    SafeHands uses film to disseminate important health messages to remote Ethiopian communities where levels of illiteracy make film the most effective medium. Where there is little or no electricity we use portable solar powered DVD players to screen our films. Due to limited funding, we have ordered these units in small quantities, necessitating the use of expensive and standard components, which are not suited to the challenging environmental conditions in which they are needed


    Investing in the design and development of a bespoke unit which meets the requirements of being cost effective, light weight, robust and easy to use will enable us to take advantage of the latest innovations in solar panels, battery packs and display technology. Increased purchasing power will enable us to greatly reduce the cost per unit, thereby extending our reach to many more communities in rural Ethiopia.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To show SafeHands educational films to many more remote communities


    » Increase the number of units deployed in the field by 100
    » Partner with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health who have expressed interest in rolling out this technology nationwide

    100 bespoke units will be deployed in remote communities, to be used by front line health workers

    Aim 2

    To customise existing technologies to improve the usability and robustness of the current design


    » Work with solar battery and display technology suppliers to develop customised and integrated design specific to our needs and those of our partners

    The improved reliability and durability will be demonstrated by the longevity of the unit and improved end-user experience

    Aim 3

    To reduce individual unit costs so they can be used more widely


    » Exploit economies of scale to negotiate best price deals with suppliers
    » Source directly from manufacturers to achieve factory-gate prices

    Each unit cost will be at least 50% less than the current cost (£550)

    Aim 4

    To extend the use of this technology to other sectors, such as agriculture


    » Partner with other Ethiopian government ministries to promote the use of the solar equipment across all sectors
    » Partner with other NGO’s who could take advantage of this technology

    Contracts agreed with other NGO’s and Ministries for the Solar DVD/Media players’ use in other industries

  • Impact


    The project will ensure that the solar powered DVD/Media players become affordable and available in many more remote Ethiopian communities for the transmission of important health and education messages.

    This success will be demonstrated in significant improvement in maternal and child health, education and agricultural knowledge leading to improved quality of life for rural Ethiopian families.


    Fluctuation in component pricing and the exchange rate could affect our ability to bring down the unit price.

    We have dealt with this by building strong relationships with suppliers and agreeing prices in advance. We will monitor the exchange rate to take advantage of lower rates.

    Unforeseen tariffs could be applied to any component part. We have dealt with this by shipping the units directly from the factory in East Asia to Ethiopia.


    We will provide quarterly email updates supported by film clips and other visuals of the product in design and in use in the field. We will offer an opportunity for donors to visit SafeHands’ office to view the finished product.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £30,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £4,000 Engineering Development Cost Product design and development
      £2,000 Product Sourcing Travel to East Asia for product sourcing
      £2,000 Product Samples Buy and test components from different manufacturers
      £2,000 Product Testing Travel to Ethiopia for testing in the field
      £20,000 DVD/Media Player Production Production of 100 units
  • Background


    The 100 DVD/Media units will be initially used in the Amhara Region, North West Ethiopia, which has a population of approximately 20 million. Subsistence farming is the main employment with 88% of the population living off the land, which is above the national average. 62% of men and 75% of women have no education; only 1.7% of all women have completed high school.


    With 100 bespoke solar powered DVD/Media players, we will reach 100 new villages in Amhara, Ethiopia. Front line health workers will use this technology in their outreach work with mothers, their newborns and the community. With each village averaging at least 5,000 inhabitants, essential health care messages will therefore reach a potential 500,000 new people.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    SafeHands has been working in Ethiopia for ten years. During that time we have used solar technology to screen educational films on topics such as child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting and maternal and newborn care. As a result of our experience in using this technology in rural areas we understand the need for an integrated, bespoke solar powered DVD/Media player which fits the needs of the communities. With investment we will develop and produce the next generation of this product.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Nancy Durrell McKenna

    SafeHands for Mothers' Founder Director has 10 years experience in using solar technology to disseminate vital health messages.

    Stephen Blows

    Stephen is the CEO of CPTech has designed the extant unit and will develop the bespoke unit.

    Family Guidance Association Of Ethiopia

    SafeHands' Ethiopian partner is the leading NGO in sexual and reproductive health, working closely with the Ministry of Health.

A healthworker uses a solar-powered DVD player

The solar-powered DVD players were pivotal to making the film shows possible in remote areas where no electrical power supply is available

Health Poverty Action - Evaluation of SafeHands' Making Pregnancy Safer project in Ethiopia